Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A beautiful queenside attack

I asked David Peng's teacher, Grandmaster Dmitry Gurevich, to take a quick look at my light notes to this game, played a week ago Saturday at Kings Island.  Dmitry wrote back, "Those 9 years olds like David and Awonder [Liang] are going to beat IMs and GMs soon... that's impressive.. scary :)) "

White: David Peng (2076)
Black: NM Charles Diebert (2234)
Kings Island Open, Mason, Ohio
November 10, 2012
Philidor Defense

I had the pleasure of witnessing most of this game from the adjoining board. David Peng is 9½ years old!

 1. e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Bc4 e5 5.d5 Be7 6.Nge2 a5 7.O-O O-O 8.Ng3 Nc5 9.f3 Ne8 10.Be3 g6

Black isn’t satisfied with a draw against his young opponent, and is willing to take some risks to win. From that respect, the opening has been reasonably successful for Black. The knight on c5 is particularly well posted, and the pawn on a5 restrains White from playing b2-b4, evicting the knight. On the kingside, Black hopes to play ...f7-f5 at an appropriate time: perhaps Black could bring pressure to bear on White’s e4 square, then play ...f5xe4 in a way that White has to reply f3xe4, and the pressure will begin to get serious. Black has the clear idea of exchanging his bad bishop on e7 with ...Be7-g5. It’s not clear what the future holds for White’s bishop on c4: the d5 pawn secures a space advantage for White, but also blocks the a2-g8 diagonal.  

11. a3 a4 12. b4 axb3 13. cxb3 Bd7 

White to play

14. a4!?

Prophylaxis is the art of figuring out your opponent’s plans, then making a move (sometimes mysterious-looking!) that does something to frustrate your opponent’s schemes while advancing your own.

White wants to roll up Black’s queenside! But here’s the problem: if White plays an immediate b3-b4, the horsie hops to a4. With the support of the bishop on d7 and the rook on a8, it’s an excellent blockading piece. But if White plays a4 first, then the a4 square is denied to Black’s knight.

Objectively, Black has more than one adequate response to White’s plan, but I think 14.a4!? is an incredibly sophisticated move for such a young player to make. And for all I know, there may be three or four moves that are objectively better.

The immediate 14.b4 can be answered by the intermezzo 14…Bg5!? (the immediate 14...Na4 works, too) 15.Bxg5 Qxg5 16.Qc1 (but not 16.bxc5?! Qe3+ and Black is better) 16... xc1 17. Rfxc1 Na4 18.Bb5 Bxb5 19.Nxb5 Rc8 20.Rc4 f5 and Black has sufficient counterplay.

14... Bg5 15. Bf2 b6!?

15... Na6!? would be a creative response, as White has weakened the b4 square.

16. b4 Nb7?

And now White can continue with his plan virtually unimpeded. At the same time, it’s hard to fault Mr. Diebert for making what seems to be a very pragmatic decision: suffer for a few moves, then counterattack on the kingside. Instead, 16... Nxa4! allows Black to retain equality because of the fork trick on b5.

17. Qb3 Ng7 18. Bb5! h5

Or 18... Bxb5 19. Nxb5 with enduring pressure. (Allowing doubled pawns with 19. axb5!? also looks strong. )

19. Bc6 Rb8 20. Nb5 Qe7 21. a5 Bxc6

21... bxa5 22. bxa5 Nc5 23. Bxc5 Bxc6 24. dxc6 dxc5 is a better try for Black, which suggests that White may have played a4-a5 a bit prematurely.

22. dxc6 +-

White’s technique in the remainder of the game is excellent: no need to hurry in a position like this!

22…Nd8 23.axb6 Nxc6 24.Qc4 Qd7 25.bxc7 Rxb5 26.Qxb5 Qxc7

Diebert offers stiff resistance in a lost position: beating a master is hard work!

27.Qc4 Qd7 28.b5 Nd4 29.b6 Nge6 30.Rfb1 Rb8 31.Ne2 Nxe2+ 32.Qxe2 Nd4 33.Qc4 Nc6 34.Qa6 Rb7 35.Qa8+ Kg7 36. Rd1 Rb8 37.Qa4 Rb7 38.Ra2 Bd8 39.Rc2 Nd4 40.Qxd7 Rxd7 41.Bxd4 exd4 42.Rb2 Rb7 43.Rdb1 Kf6 44.Kf2 Ke6 45.Ke2 d5 46.Kd3 dxe4+ 47.Kxe4 Kd6 48.Rb3 Bf6 49.Ra1!

White has accurately evaluated that a couple checks and a pawn push is nothing to fear. 49…Re7+ 50.Kd3 Kc6 50... Re3+ 51. Kc2 d3+ 52. Kd2 and the rook on a1 is immune, even after Re2+ 53. Kxd3

51.Ra7 Re3+ 52.Kc4 Rc3+ 53.Rxc3 dxc3 54.Kd3 Kxb6 55.Rxf7 Be5 56.h3 Kc5 57.Rf8 Kb4 58.Kc2 g5 59.Rf5 Bf4 60.h4! 1-0 



GreenCastle said...

15..Na6 can be met energetically via 16.b4!?

16..Nxb4 17.Rb1 and now
17..Na6 18.Rxb7 which would give White a passer, or
17..c5 18.dxc6 Nxc6 19.Nd5 where White's centralized N and both bishops have a lot of influence, should offer decent compensation for the pawn.

Bill Brock said...

Matt is right that 15...Na6 16.b4!? is a cool idea. Houdini evaluates 16...Nxb4 17.Rb1 Na6 18.Rxb7 Nc5 as roughly equal (19.Rb4 may be White's best move, suggesting that the a-pawn is a mixed blessing.)